Yesterday, David Cameron rebuked (but did not punish) Alan Duncan for his ‘in jest’ whines about being made to feel guilty about claiming £1000 a year for gardening and not being allowed to eat as grandly as he’d like on the taxpayer.
Today, Cameron has not only distanced himself from Daniel Hannan MEP’ s involvement in helping the US right to slag off the NHS, but he also announced that if the Tories get in, he will cut the ministerial salary packages for his front bench.
Of course, the Duncan thing is light – too light really, considering that Duncan isn’t just some Tory MP, but the member of the Shadow Cabinet who’s brief includes looking at the rules on MP’s expenses.
And the Hannan thing has taken days, months, in fact. Back in March the right wing MEP was making dodgy claims about the NHS and he’s always been one who thinks that a private system would be better, despite the Tory Party insisting that their policy is 100% behind the NHS and Cameron himself being personally associated with it.
And the Minister’s pay thing may not actually be that much of a cut at all. Gordon Brown announced earlier in the year that Ministers would not take their rise this year (since last year the salaries of MPs and Ministers has been set outside direct political control and so each year they get a rise in a similar way to other public employees). Next year another rise will go on to the actual salary figure, but if the recession is still going on, I suspect that Brown will continue to hold the amounts that Ministers actually take, rather than be seen to let them get a rise just before an election.
So will Cameron’s ‘cut’ be based on the official figure, or on the lower amount that the Labour ministers will actually have been receiving?
Not to mention that Cameron, Osborne, and many of the current Conservative front bench are already independently wealthy and laden with outside jobs and so wouldn’t really notice a bit less pay anyway, and the apparent show of strength looks more like gesture politics to me.